SAVAGE

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SAVAGE, Richard, an English poet of die last century, celebrated for his genius, irregularities and misfortunes, was born in London, about 1C98. The singular story of Savage, adorned as it is by the pen of his intimate friend, doctor Johnson (Lives of the Poets), has acquired great celebrity ; but there is reason to believe that a great part of it is utterly fictitious. Savage was probably the son of a woman who had been employed to nurse a natural son of the countess of Macclesfield by earl Rivers. That lady always assertedand there is no good cause for doubting itthat her child died while quite young, and that Savage was an impostor. Johnson's account, taken from Savage himself, is, that no sooner did he see the light, than a most unnatural hatred took complete possession of his mother; that he was placed with a woman in the lowest state of indigence, with directions that he should be brought up in ignorance of his birth, and in the meanest condition; that the interference of his maternal grandmother, lady Mason, a little alleviated his lot; and through her kindness he was placed at a grammar school in the neighborhood of St. Alban's, during which period earl Rivers died, re, yoking a bequest he had made him, on being assured by the countess that her child had been some time dead ; and that his mother endeavored to have him kidnapped and sent as a slave to the plantations. He was an apprentice to a shoemaker (this is true), when the woman, whom he had been taught to consider his mother, dying suddenly, some of lady Mason's letters, among her papers, discovered to him, as he pretends, the secret of his birth; or, as appears probable, suggested to him the plan of assuming to be the child of lady Macclesfield, whom his mother had nursed, and to whom these letters really related, He now became an author for the means of bodily subsistence. His first work wras a pamphlet on the Bangorian controversy, which was followed by two comedies, Woman's a Riddle, and Love in a Veil, which procured, him the acquaintance of sir Richard Steele and Mr. Wilkes. In 1723, his tragedy, on the subject of sir Thomas Overbury, was brought out; the author himself performed the principal character, but with little success : the profits of the piece, however, appear to have amounted to about £200. The poet was now rising in reputation, when, in 1727, in a broil in a house of ill fame, he killed a Mr. Sinclair; and, being tried for murder, a verdict of guilty was pronounced against him. Through the influence, however, of lady Hertford, the king's pardon was granted him. Soon after, lord Tyrconnel received him into his house, and allowed him two hundred pounds a year. In 1729, he published his Wanderer, a Moral Poem. A quarrel with his patron once more turned him adrift upon the world, and he now produced The Bastard, a poem of merit. A Birthday Ode, addressed to the queen, procured him a pension of fifty pounds from her majesty, to which he was eventually mainly indebted for his support. A satire agcdnst the clergy, entitled the Progress of a Divine, caused a prosecution to be instituted against him; but the information was dismissed. From this period, he appears to have sunk into the lowest misery The death of the queen, and the loss of his pension,completed his ruin ; and, although a few friends raised a subscription, with a view of enabling him to reside in Wales, the same propensity to dissipation induced him not only to squander the money advanced to him, but to incur a debt of eight pounds at Bristol; for which he was arrested, thrown into the county jail, and eventually removed to Newgate, where he died in 1743. Although Savage at one time received an allowance of fifty pounds a year from Mrs. Oldlield, and repeatedly extorted considerable sums of money from lady Macclesfield by threats of lampooning her, besides other sums From the admirers of his genius, his extravagance always kept him poor; and it ts well known that he was the friend and companion of Johnson at the time when 'he latter was sleeping in the streets of London, houseless and penny less. For me true character and history of Savage, see Gait's Lives of the Players (London, 1831, 1st vol.).